Turkey’s Continued Polarization is Biggest Challenge for New Government

Turkey’s Continued Polarization is Biggest Challenge for New Government

The Turkish nation delivered its verdict last week, even taking Erdogan and his supporters by surprise. Turkey's parliamentary elections on July 22 resulted in a decisive victory for Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, of the Islamic-rooted party AKP. The AKP's 47 percent of the vote has reaffirmed the party's place as one of the most powerful political parties in the history of Turkish elections, claiming an even larger share of the vote than was realized in 2002.

"Democracy has passed a very important test," Erdogan said in his victory speech, amidst bursting firecrackers and showering balloons at his Ankara party headquarters. "Whoever you voted for, we respect your choice. . . . We regard your differences as part of our pluralist democracy." But last Sunday's results are far from being a vindication of democracy. Turkey is still a nation deeply polarized, as evidenced by the plethora of Turkish reporters and writers who've since laced their commentaries with acid in the mainstream dailies. Those who attempted to diminish the role of Islam in the public sphere have been dealt a cruel blow and feel betrayed by Turkish democracy. Erdogan's party now has the difficult task of appeasing the disenchanted and disillusioned, and tackling a number of pressing challenges in a political environment that is often volatile and unpredictable.

A Presidential Question

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